I have sung e.e. cummings poem “I carry your heart with me” to God like a psalm for years. I used to say it was my prayer but I’ve realized that’s not exactly true. I don’t sing it hoping that the words will become a reality but knowing that they are my reality. There is no fate, no world for me outside of him. I know because I abandon him so frequently. And when I do it is like I’m cut off from what the moon means and what the sun sings. Like I am a body and mind without a heart.
When my voice sings out those words, it is in desperate need to feel the beat of my heart within my chest again as it beats with his. Cummings words are so beautiful, so enticing, they help draw me back.
This is one of those times that I need this song.
It sounds so pathetic to say that without God in my life I don’t know who I am. That I feel vacant and vapid. That I lose all sense of direction. If I were to use this as some sort of argument for God’s existence (which is not my intention), I know how it would be ridiculed. I despise this feeling of weakness but this is my Achilles’ heel. Every time I shut God out, and it happens all frequently, this is what happens:
Self-assurance is replaced by self-doubt. Passion turns to apathy. My well of words begins to run dry. My thoughts grow quieter and quieter until they can’t be heard.
This person is so foreign to me that I feel like a stranger. Somehow, it still takes me ages to identify why this is happening. This time, I think it’s taken nearly a year.
Locking God out this year wasn’t exactly intentional. Not like when I was mad at God in college. I just haven’t wanted the emotional clutter that close relationships, especially with men and God, bring to my life. I haven’t wanted the confusion of trying to sort out what I want versus what God wants from me. So, over this year, I’ve been gradually withdrawing more and more into myself, making it impossible for another man to enter my life or for God to have an active part in it.
As a result, 2013 was rather placid. Sure, I had I raging internal debate about what I want to do with my life but it was more rational than emotional. Honestly, it was a mental exercise in futility. Life has a way of working these things out for us—opening doors, closing others—it’s impossible to determine more than what I want/should do right now. I know this so I don’t know why I bothered being so engrossed in the debate besides wanting something to obsess over. My concern about the weight I gained back last year was a similarly pointless, emotionless debate. I kept telling myself I should care, mentally listing off the reasons and the solutions but, emotionally, I didn’t give a damn. While my mind and body didn’t have a great year, for my heart it was tranquil.
Solitude has that effect on me. There is a certain freedom in solitude that I’ve always found comfort in. I strongly feel the heavy weight of the responsibility that relationships impose upon us. It’s a yoke I find hard to bear every day. At first, it is a pleasure to feel free of it. In the absence of those relationships, I gain greater control over what I want and how I feel. The downside is that this sort of freedom eventually has a deadening effect because the body and mind can’t survive without the heart.
I’m to that point now where I feel like I might die without the challenge and reward of those heart to heart conversations with God that push me to try harder in my relationships with other people. Without that fire that burns inside, prompting me to challenge things I feel deep in my bones are dangerously ugly. Without the passion for beauty and meaning that drives me to write. Without those pangs of conviction that disrupt my apathy and compel me to change, to grow.
So, I’m singing out e.e. cummings words to God again hoping that soon I’ll feel my heart beating with his. I wonder when I’ll learn to stop cutting myself off from my heart.
Feature image by Pablo Heimplatz.